Retooling classic salsa song, Lin-Manuel Miranda urges Florida Puerto Ricans to vote

Early voting already started in Florida and "Hamilton" composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, alongside the Hispanic Federation, is trying to make sure that thegrowing Puerto Rican population that has settled in the state casts their votes ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Miranda partnered with Billboard Music award-winning artistFrankie Negrón to reinvent the salsa classic "Mi Gente" from belated music icon and Fania All Stars’ Hector Lavoe into a jingle titled “Respeta Mi Gente” — the same name of a coalition that seeks to motivate tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans in Florida already registered to vote.

The new song is part of a multimedia voter mobilization campaign launched on Monday by the nonprofit Hispanic Federation and Respeta Mi Gente that attempts to build political power among the growing share of Puerto Rican voters in Florida.

There are approximately 1 million Puerto Ricans in the state; since the hurricane over 30,000 have settled permanently in Florida.

According to Hispanic Federation president José Calderón, the campaign aims to focus on convincing Puerto Ricans and other Latino voters to partake in the early voting process.

Miranda said during a call with reporters that "flipping this Hector Lavoe classic into a call for action is just gorgeous.”

“We’re literary using Hector Lavoe’s song and voice,” added Negrón, “to address what a difficult year this has been for Puerto Ricans with an inadequate response to Hurricane Maria and for all Latinos in general.”

Luis Miranda, the Hispanic Federation's founder and former president, who is Lin-Manuel’s father, explained that the multimedia campaign consists of two TV ads, a radio ad and a comprehensive digital approach.

One of the ads is a “reminder of what Latinos went through and why now we have to make sure we're voting,” he said.

During the call, both Puerto Rican musicians said they found it was important to keep Hector Lavoe’s original line, "que yo le canto al presidente,” Spanish for "I sing to the president."

“Let’s not forget that the president spends a lot of time in Florida,” said Negrón, referring to President Donald Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-A-Lago. “We are specifically speaking to voters, but this is also a message to our president that Florida is now becoming ‘Little Puerto Rico.’”

“No campaign is complete without a song, without music, a caravan,” said Frederick Vélez, organizing director of Respeta Mi Gente. “We’re speaking to our Puerto Rican community in a very cultural way.”

Organizers at Respeta Mi Gente aspire to knock on at least 100,000 doors ahead of the midterms to make sure people know how to vote.

“We need to communicate with voters,” Luis Miranda said. “It is an educational process to understand that you need to vote.”

Kara Watkins